A new program created by California State University in Bakersfield and Kern High School District aims to recruit and retain more teachers in the district.

With a national teacher shortage, schools across Bakersfield and Kern County have been hiring uncredentialed educators as a result.

For Bakersfield City School District, half of 149 newly hired teachers are still working toward their credentials. While they continue to take classes at CSUB, they’ll have their own classrooms–and earn a salary with a complete benefits package.

Kern High School District has a slightly different approach. They’re taking on 20 CSUB graduate students for a one-year teacher residency in a high school classroom. As they work toward their own certification, the grad students will be side-by-side co-teaching with a credentialed educator.

As an added bonus, the program is completely paid for.

“Because they’re so prepared, they experience a lot of success in the classroom and their students do well, so they’re more likely to be retained in the teaching profession,” said Kristina Lague, CSUB’s teacher education department chair.

While aspiring teachers must typically pay $8,000 for a credential, this program covers the cost of the certification and gives residents $15,000.

Kern High School District hopes the monetary incentive will alleviate the financial barrier that often discourages people from becoming teachers.

“It might deter some individuals from just kind of jumping into the profession. Now they’re getting that experience and realizing, ‘this is something I might be called for,” said Jennifer Yamauchi, a mentor for the teacher residency program. 

As for the return on investment for Kern County–after the program, residents must teach for two years in the district.

Monica Petty, a resident who has three kids and is concerned about the cost of a teacher certification, this program is a perfect fit.

“It almost sounds too good to be true,” she said. “It’s an opportunity that I can’t believe I’m able to participate in.”

Now, the overarching question is: are uncredentialed teachers going to be good for students?

Educators who spoke with 17 News said a non-credentialed teacher is better than having a non-regular teacher, like a substitute. According to the district, most teachers hired without credentials eventually become certified, and they stay with the district.